Mental Health First Aid is not a silver bullet. It can be a great practice to be implemented by organisations as one part of a range of initiatives within a wider workplace wellbeing strategy.

MHFA implementation does bring some great benefits when implemented well. It can:

  • Help to build a culture of openness where employees feel able to be themselves without a fear of discrimination
  • You can support the wellbeing of your people through the promotion of good wellbeing practices
  • Give employees somewhere to go if they need to talk or need signposting to help
  • Build awareness of spotting the signs of deteriorating mental health
  • Help individuals feel empowered to start a conversation or assist in a crisis

People are at the heart of every business. In the words of Richard Branson “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.”

With mental health first aid it is one thing to tick a box and have a group of your people complete a 2 day course. It’s a very different thing to create lasting and sustainable organisational culture change. Here are 5 ways you can do this.

Effective recruitment of your MHFAiders

Have individuals represented at different levels of the organisational hierarchy, as well as ensuring a diverse group of individuals to increase the likelihood of employees feeling able to talk to at least one of the MHFAiders should they need to. Recruitment should also be done on a voluntary basis. The training can be intense at times and the role can be challenging. Therefore MHFAs need to want to do the role and feel comfortable in completing the training. Not everyone who volunteers will be right for the role which is why a recruitment process is important.

Support for your MHFAiders in the role with robust policies and procedures.

Having the clarity of a policy is essential in keeping all involved safe. While generally speaking the things discussed in a MHFA interaction will be confidential, there may be times where confidentiality has to be breached. A policy can set out the boundaries ensuring transparency for all involved. It also provides valuable guidance for MHFAiders® in terms of things such as escalation process. Both the person being supported and the MHFAider need to be protected by clear and transparent policies, keeping all involved safe. A policy would also include information on what a MHFAider should do if they don’t feel well enough at a particular time to be active in the role, as well as where they can go should they need some support themselves.

Offer regular upskill and development to keep your first aiders up to date and feeling confident and empowered in the role.

Some first aiders will be more active in the role than others. And with that comes knowledge fade. It is important that MHFAiders® are feeling confident and therefore regular meetings can allow for knowledge upskill or refresh. They also allow an opportunity for Mental Health First Aiders to practice their skills again in a safe environment as well as sharing top tips and best practices with each other.

Have reporting measures in place to support effectiveness and positive culture change

While confidentiality provides some limitations in terms of reporting, key themes can be reported, as can the frequency of interactions and the length of time spent in MHFA conversations. This is all valuable information in terms of measuring the success of the programme. It also helps to identify key organisational challenges which may need to be addressed at a wider level to support lasting cultural change.

Utilise the positive impact MHFAiders can have on the promotion of good wellbeing practices

MHFAiders can support in the delivery of your wider wellbeing strategy initiatives, the role isn’t just about responding to someone who may be struggling. They can role model good healthy habits, raise awareness and be proactive in leading the wider wellbeing strategy. Allocating responsibilities to a wide range of individuals can help to keep the momentum going and also keep strong representation of all individuals within the workplace.

If you would like any further support or guidance on the implementation of Mental Health First Aiders we would love to chat. Contact Jen at Jennifer.rawlinson@flourishinmind.co.uk